Working with ACOs - Pharma as a Trusted Advisor
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are beacons of opportunity in a new era US healthcare. Effective cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and ACOs is critical to realizing the full extent of this opportunity - which will manifest in cost savings and improvements in healthcare provision.
Here we speak to Howard Buff, CEO of Orange Health Solutions, who foresees improved consumer outcomes as a result of closer collaboration with pharma.
Orange Health Solutions is among the organizations driving positive change in healthcare provision. CEO Howard Buff emphasizes that in order to bring about improved service and reduced costs, “It’s all about consumers.” He advocates empowering consumers such that they are able to “shop and have options,” with regards to their healthcare.
Being a consumer champion doesn’t necessitate distance from pharma though. On the contrary, Buff is unambiguous about his desire to collaborate with industry. One aspect of this entails working closely with pharmacies. “Pharmacy is crucial to the success of our value-based team approach to healthcare improvement,” he attests. He reports that Orange Health Solutions are currently working to integrate the offerings of major pharmacy CVS with the Orange Health ACO, in search of positive outcomes. “There’s an opportunity to reduce costs and improve quality of care.” By supporting patients, he hopes to achieve important benefits such as boosting adherence. “We’ll follow up with patience engagement to ensure compliance,” says Buff. Pointing to the example of missed or forgotten prescriptions, he indicates that in the new system, “people will be on top of it.”
Lauren Dean, Practice Consultant at Orange Health Solutions and a former practice manager herself, shares Buff’s vision for the role pharma can play in healthcare reform. “As a former practice manager, I believe Pharma will play an integral role in healthcare reform with respect to lowering costs and improving quality outcomes,” says Dean. She envisages pharma evolving into “trusted advisors” for the field, offering physicians, “the data they need to provide patients with the best possible care.”
ACOs in general are looking to pharma to proactively develop and offer services to their members.
So what are some of the specific ways in which pharmaceutical companies can work with ACOs in order to deliver improved healthcare? Howard Buff has a number of suggestions. “ACOs in general are looking to pharma to proactively develop and offer services to their members,” he says. Suggesting that, “pharma is a tool for achieving quality outcomes,” Buff notes that the relationship is about more than simply managing drug spend. It begins with care coordination efforts and data intelligence. “There are specific data points and actions that ACOs need from the pharma industry,” says Buff. As well as boosting adherence, these include identifying gaps in care provision and at-risk patients. Other ways in which pharma can help are with identifying cost saving opportunities, managing the use of high-risk medications, tracking and analyzing refill history and measuring generic compliance rates.
The role pharma plays will only increase as ACOs take on more risk and are held accountable for quality outcomes.
Buff expects pharma and ACOs to work more closely together in future. He envisages that, “the role pharma plays will only increase as ACOs take on more risk and are held accountable for quality outcomes.” As they eventually develop their own health plans and take a “much more active role in managing formularies,” Buff argues that mutual benefit can be derived if pharma and ACOs work together. “Pharma […] can utilize ACOs to improve health, reduce costs and enhance patient experience,” he says.
Lauren Dean is also positive about the future, anticipating that “the pharma industry will continue to strengthen their relationships with physicians.” Echoing Buff’s support for the value-based team approach she notes that pharma and physicians will work towards a shared goal, “paving the way to a new healthcare system.”
Want to find out more about how pharma can work with ACOs and what the industry’s role in this new paradigm can be? We’ve compiled a new research paper on this topic which is available for free download now.
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